Sensitive Teeth or Tooth Sensitivity : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment.

Tooth sensitivity is the most common and most frequent dental problem faced by almost every one of us once in a lifetime. Have you experienced pain in your teeth after taking a bite of ice cream or drinking a hot tea if yes, it might be due to sensitive teeth?

Tooth sensitivity in simple terms means sudden pain or feeling of discomfort after having cold or hot food items, it is the response to certain stimuli shown by teeth. It may be due to cold or hot temperatures.

Damage to enamel or cementum of tooth thus leading to exposed dentin when stimulated by any external factor like having chilled ice cream could lead to pain or discomfort.

tooth pain remedies natural
tooth pain remedies natural

Quick fact – These days younger and older adults are most commonly facing Tooth sensitivity due to diet changes such as an increase in the acidic diet, improper brushing leading to trauma to the tooth, personal habits. But these days people are looking for Dental professionals for this problem.

According to the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, a study conducted shown the prevalence of Dentin sensitivity was around 25 percent in a rural population of Punjab. However, the people receiving the treatment were only 15 percent. The most commonly affected teeth in dentin sensitivity were lower mandibular incisors and various factors associated were low education level, no access to proper treatment, and lower socioeconomic status.

According to a study conducted by the National Health Portal Of India studies conducted shows in most population, 10-30% of the general population suffer from tooth hypersensitivity.

dental health and treatment
dental health and treatment

Causes of Dental Hypersensitivity

If you are not able to enjoy your chilled drinks or ice cream or really hot soup might be having tooth sensitivity. The causes for the same could be –

  • Worn tooth enamel thus exposed nerves of the tooth.
  • Hard or aggressive brushing
  • Regular intake of acidic food or beverages 
  • Grinding of teeth at night
  • Gum recession
  • Cavity in tooth
  • Chipped teeth
  • Broken or worn down fillings
  • Teeth bleaching
  • Tooth whitening toothpaste
  • Mouthwashes having alcohol
  • Gum disease or gingivitis
  • Plaque build up on teeth
  • Decay around tooth fillings


tooth sensitivity
tooth sensitivity

The most common cause of sensitivity of the tooth is usually plaque buildup around the tooth, tooth decay (cavity formation ), or trauma to the tooth. Continuous exposure to acid due to GERD (Gastroesophageal disease ) can also erode teeth thus leading to a sensitivity of the tooth.

Everyday causes include poor oral hygiene measures, improper or vigorous brushing of teeth with hard bristles, and consuming acidic food or beverages regularly.

Dental decay or cavities when left untreated for a long duration or improperly treated may expose nerve endings in the tooth and thus teeth sensitivity causing pain or discomfort after eating or drinking hot, cold, or sweet.

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Trauma to the tooth is caused by regular grinding of teeth, biting hard food or object, improperly fit dental appliances, damage to a previously done dental filling, or other dental work.


oral hygiene and oral health problems
oral hygiene and oral health problems



(Gastroesophageal reflux )disease could erode the teeth and cause tooth sensitivity. By reducing acid reflux one can prevent acid from reaching the teeth and thus sensitivity. You might need to control your weight if overweight, stop smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, prevent overeating and refrain from sleeping or lying down immediately after eating food.


Teeth whitening procedures :- could lead to teeth sensitivity and thus called teeth whitening sensitivity. The ingredients in the products used could lead to sensitivity thus pain or discomfort after having cold or hot food. However, it is temporary and goes away within few days.


Symptoms of Tooth Sensitivity

Anyone can face teeth sensitivity that can cause pain and discomfort and the triggers include cold/hot/acidic food or beverages, after a dental cleaning, rigorous brushing of teeth.

The symptoms may and even go within a short period. They may be mild or severe.

Other symptoms of sensitive teeth

Sensitive teeth may be a symptom of an underlying disease or condition. Tooth sensitivity with other symptoms such as bad breath, redness, and swelling of the gums, pus may indicate mouth problem.

Sensitive teeth along with other symptoms such as heartburn, indigestion could be due to problems in the body system.


saltwater rinses for tooth pain
saltwater rinses for tooth pain



If you are facing tooth sensitivity regularly, you must book your appointment with your dentist to rule out the cause of sensitivity. The dentist would do a dental examination, diagnosis, would take the patient’s history, x –rays, and would identify the cause for the same.

The dentist would ask about the duration of sensitivity, whether hot/cold/sweet food or beverages causing sensitivity/pain or discomfort. He/She would do clinical examination by tapping the tooth with a mouth mirror and exploring the cavity. He/she would do an X-ray to see the evidence of tooth decay in the crown or root of teeth, any damaged fillings, or deep fillings leading to sensitivity.

With the above information, the dentist would arrive at an ideal diagnosis and would recommend the treatment for the sensitivity.


Treatment for Sensitive Teeth Problem

Sensitivity is a very common problem and you should consult your dentist to get your oral diagnosis done, identify the cause and get the treatment for the same.

Change your diet  Sensitivity of teeth may be due to more acidic food or beverages in your diet that usually cause weakening of tooth enamel and thus sensitivity.

Improper brushing habitsSwitching to proper brushing habits could reduce sensitivity. Change your toothbrush from hard bristles to soft bristles and don’t brush vigorously. Be gentle while brushing your teeth and brushing in various motions is recommended.


If you grind your teeth while sleeping and suffer from other symptoms like jaw pain, headaches, face pain, and stiffness in the jaw along with the sensitivity of teeth you must consult your dentist for the same.

A nightguard helps prevent grinding and clenching of teeth at night while sleeping thus preventing the wearing away of enamel.


flouride for tooth pain and sensitivity
flouride for tooth pain and sensitivity

Fluoride treatmentIt is recommended to strengthen the enamel. As per the diagnosis, your dentist would prescribe fluoride toothpaste, fluoride treatment, or fluoride rinse to strengthen your enamel and which would help to reduce the sensitivity of teeth.

DesensitizingOccasionally, the exposed root surface is treated by bonding it with resin to the sensitive surface of the root areas. It is given under local anesthesia.

Gum graftIn case gum tissue is lost, surgical gum grafting is done in which a small amount of gum tissue is taken from elsewhere in the mouth and attached to the affected area. This surgical procedure prevent exposed roots and reduce sensitivity.

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Root canal treatmentIf desensitizing toothpaste, mouthwash, fluoride treatment that is the primary line of treatment is not effective and you are suffering from pain that is severe and continuous Root canal treatment is done. It is the procedure to treat dental pulp. This is the most successful technique to reduce tooth sensitivity.


sensitive teeth causes
sensitive teeth causes

Home Remedies

Sensitivity sometimes makes eating and drinking difficult, however trying certain home remedies could reduce pain and sensitivity.

Oil Pulling A pilot study from 2015 says Oil pulling reduces plaque formation and thus prevent gingivitis. The potential benefits of oil pulling prevent gingivitis and thus reduce teeth sensitivity. Research says tooth sensitivity is most common among people who have gingivitis or gum recession.

How is oil pulling done?

Oil pulling is traditional Ayurveda practice that involves swishing oil around the mouth for 3-4 minutes before brushing in the morning and then spitting it out. Most commonly coconut oil is used for Oil pulling. It is very effective in the prevention of plaque formation around the tooth.


Clove gelClove oil or gel is used by people as a remedy to get relief from toothache. You can apply clove gel or oil to reduce tooth sensitivity or pain and it can provide you temporary relief from the same.


gargling and oil pulling
gargling and oil pulling


Saltwater rinses It is the most commonly used technique to cleanse the oral cavity on daily basis. Saltwater rinsing twice a day is simply very beneficial to reduce the chances of plaque formation around the tooth, prevent gum inflammation and even reduces pain and improve oral hygiene.

How to do saltwater rinses?

Take around half a teaspoonful of salt in 1 glass of warm water. Swish the salt water around the mouth several times and spit it out. You can do salt water rinses twice a day for great results.


TurmericIt is most commonly Ayurveda remedy for reducing inflammation. Turmeric is the yellow spice that contains curcumin, which reduces inflammation and thus pain.

How to use turmeric as a home remedy?

You can make a paste by mixing turmeric with water or mustard oil, rubbing the paste around the swollen gums reduces pain and sensitivity. However, there is not yet any scientific research to support the use of turmeric.


Fluoride –

Using dental products such as Fluoride toothpaste, fluoride mouthwashes as a part of the daily dental care regime can reduce the risk of caries and minimize teeth sensitivity too.


oral health and hygiene check
oral health and hygiene check

Question and Answers

Q1. I have sensitive teeth does this mean I have tooth decay?

If you feel pain or discomfort after eating or drinking, it is possible you could have a cavity. But the presence of tooth sensitivity does not mean you have cavities or cavities. If you are not sure, you must consult your dentist for a full examination.


Q2. Is it bad to have sensitive teeth?

Sensitivity to cold is very common and can be caused by gum recession too. But if your teeth are getting sensitive to hot you must consult your dentist to identify the cause and get the treatment as soon as possible.


Q3. What happens if sensitive teeth are left untreated?

If left untreated, sensitivity can worsen. If it is related to tooth decay or trauma it can lead to further complications thus leading to expensive treatment or can progress to a point where you would need to avoid certain food or drinks too. So if you are facing any pain or discomfort on daily basis you must book an appointment with your dentist for proper examination and treatment.

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Q4. Does teeth are more sensitive in the winter season?

If your teeth are hurting, they can hurt more in the winter season. Very cold weather could trigger jaw pain and tooth pain while eating ice cream, cold beverages. Sometimes, teeth become more sensitive during winters, due to being exposed to a cooler temperature.


Q5. Is tooth sensitivity provoked by dental procedures?

Some dental procedures like professional dental cleaning, fillings, crown placement, tooth restoration may provoke tooth sensitivity. But this type of sensitivity usually goes away within few weeks by itself.


teeth sensitivity and issues
teeth sensitivity and issues


Q6. Does tooth sensitivity is a sign of a serious dental problem?

If your teeth are sensitive for more than 5-6 days and along with that you are facing pain or discomfort from hot, cold, or sweet food and beverages you must visit your dentist for proper oral cavity examination. Sometimes, sensitivity is also due to infection in tooth pulp so it is recommended to consult your dentist as soon as possible.


Q7. Can I reverse tooth sensitivity?

If you are not having any serious tooth issues you can reverse general tooth sensitivity by practicing good oral hygiene including brushing your teeth properly at least twice a day, using a fluoride mouthwash, and reducing the intake of acidic food and beverages.


Q8. Does vigorous brushing and cleaning teeth reduce sensitivity?

Regular brushing is the ideal solution to maintain oral hygiene and prevent sensitivity of teeth. But vigorous brushing is a big NO. The ideal way is to brush your teeth with a soft-bristled tooth brush, using gentle strokes, rather than harsh scrubbing.


Q9. What is the first thing to do if I have sensitive teeth?

First of all, if you are using a hard-bristled toothbrush, you must update it to soft-bristled also brush gently and carefully around the gum line to prevent gum tissue.


Q10. What toothpaste should I use?

Update your toothpaste with fluoridated toothpaste if you have sensitive teeth. You can use desensitizing toothpaste, spread over your teeth for one minute could relieve temporary sensitivity.


Q11. What is the difference between sensitive teeth and sensitive gums?

Sensitive teeth may cause pain or discomfort from hot or cold food or beverages while sensitive gums may turn red and bleed. But neither sensitive teeth nor sensitive gums should be ignored and you must consult your dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Dr Jyotsana Anand
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